I must declare at the outset that this is a book I was looking forward to for a while.
I find biodynamic wine a fascinating subject – some of the most interesting producers in the wine world have decided to farm their vineyards the biodynamic way. I also have a lot of time for Monty Waldin, a wine writer who follows his convictions and has been an advocate for organic and biodynamic wine growing.
Credit to publishers Mitchell Beazley for commissioning the first book on this subject. I’ll say at the outset that even if you have just a passing interest in the subject, this is the tome to have on your bookshelf as a comprehensive reference on the subject.
With more than 500 pages this is a bit of a door-wedge of a book. Despite its size, though, there isn’t much room for a broader introduction to the subject – it is straight into the deep end with a discussion of biodynamic practice and the various preparations used.
I guess my only gripe with this otherwise excellent book is that it is aimed at believers. The assumption is that you are already familiar with biodynamics and agree that it works; there’s no discussion of the conflict between some of the tenets of this agricultural system and mainstream science, or that some elements of biodynamie might have efficacy while others don’t. The book is poorer for the lack of a frank discussion of the controversies that surround this subject. I think Monty would have done better if he’d been able to take a step back from this subject, which is evidently very dear to him, and think from the perspective of the non-believer.
On the positive side, the bulk of the book consists of a geographic survey of biodynamic producers, an extremely useful feature, and it’s worth buying the book for this alone. There are many streams or varieties of biodynamic wine growing, and this makes it difficult to identify who is actually doing it. In addition, some use it primarily as a marketing tool, while others will use just some aspects of it without wanting to label themselves. Monty’s book is the first systematic attempt to catalogue biodynamic winegrowing throughout the world’s wine regions, and it should help to stimulate interest in and debate around this unusual and fascinating agricultural system.
"Biodynamic wines" by Monty Waldin
Publisher Mitchell Beazley